NIFS Healthy Living Blog

10 Winter Fitness and Wellness Tips

ThinkstockPhotos-619079130-1.jpgAs much as no one wants to admit it, the winter months are in front of us. Even though I grew up in a northern snow belt along the Great Lakes, cold weather is not my thing. In fact, I really don’t like anything about it. And often along with the winter blues comes a decrease in health and fitness due to the lack of motivation. To counteract that feeling, let’s look at ten tips that can help you be healthier this winter.

  1. Work out. I know it’s easy to lose motivation to keep working out when it’s cold out, it’s dark by 5, and you have to put on your snow boots and warm up the car before going to the gym. But working out actually helps to build your immune system and keep you healthy. So make sure that you build those workouts into your schedule.
  2. Eat well. It’s important to make sure that you stick to clean eating, especially through the holidays. All the additional sweets, snacks, drinks, and other goodies that come with the holidays are sometimes hard to resist; do your best to stay focused on your goals.
  3. Drink lots of water. Being sure that you have proper hydration is always important regardless of the time of year. Carry around a water bottle everywhere you go and make sure you keep drinking.
  4. Cover your head in outdoor workouts. If you do decide to work out outdoors, be sure to wear a hat or something to cover your ears. Making sure you stay warm and don’t catch a cold will be vital to your winter wellness success. (Here are some more tips for dressing warmly for winter workouts.)
  5. Get some sun if possible. Studies show that getting your vitamin D is essential. If you can dress appropriately, try to get outside on a nice day or plan that beach vacation during the cold winter months.


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  6. Wash your hands. I know this is the standard thing you see in every public bathroom or on the back of the stall doors. But for real, wash your hands to help prevent you from getting the flu or other illnesses going around. Catching something could really set you back in getting in your workouts and healthy eating.
  7. Set a goal for the spring. Have a goal in place as the winter months start so that you can keep it on the forefront as something to work toward.
  8. Get a trainer or workout buddy. There is no better time to treat yourself to some additional accountability. Hire a trainer for the winter months or find that accountability partner to keep you in check!
  9. Watch your intake. You must be mindful, especially around the holidays, of what you are taking into your body. Also, keep in mind that drinks add a lot of unwanted calories, so watch what enters the black hole!
  10. Join something. The options are endless…group exercise, HIT classes, group training, a training program of some sort, co-ed sports…the list can go on. Find something you like and sign up to keep you engaged.

Whatever emotions the winter months may bring you, use these tips to be successful with your winter fitness and wellness!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS winter fitness nutrition fitness center goal setting equipment group training accountability NIFS programs hydration HIT outdoors personal training wellness vitamin D

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 3: TRX

trx-1.jpgIn the two previous installments of “Max Results with Minimal Equipment,” we took a look at sliders and superbands, definitely two of my top “go-to” pieces of gear for when I need big results with small equipment. Now it’s time to cover the big daddy of them all in the minimal gear, max results department: the TRX!

A great deal has been written about the TRX. The work done with the TRX has been huge in recent years, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the top fitness purchases out there. I have been recommending the purchase of this system to anyone and everyone who will listen. I recommend that you add it to not only your at-home and travel programming, but also your everyday workouts. But considering we are discussing how to get results when traveling or when you can’t make it to the gym, I will keep the awesome attributes specific to that.

Silly Rabbit, TRX Are Made for Everybody and Everywhere!

Here are the top reasons why I recommend this system as a must-own piece of equipment:

  • Portable is an understatement! Coiled up properly in its handy carry cinch-bag, the TRX becomes a small pouch that fits into any suitcase or bag.
  • The setup for use of the TRX is just as simple as it is portable. The TRX can be attached to a tree if you prefer to be outside. It can be attached to a power rack or cable cross machine. Or it can even be hung from your hotel door with a handy door-mount accessory.
  • When using the TRX to perform any movement, you are really using the entire body as well. Changing vectors and bases of support will challenge the entire system, no matter whether you are doing a bicep curl or a jump squat. The system will target your ability to stabilize the trunk in all movements that you perform.
  • The TRX can train mobility, stability, strength, and metabolic resistance. There are not many, if any, pieces of equipment that can do it all, but the TRX can. What separates the TRX from all other pieces is how quickly you can increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise. Just by changing your vector (a fancy word for angle), you can load up an exercise or make it a little easier for timed sets. A single TRX system allows you to target all facets of a solid training program.
  • Countless movement options. I can confidently say that you could rotate through the multitude of exercise choices you can do with the TRX and not see the same exercise for days. There is just so much you can do with just a single system! And if you didn’t learn all you need to know from a NIFS health/fitness instructor on how to get the most out of this equipment, the great people of TRX have complied a mass of workouts and exercises you can use to get the results you are hunting.

My Favorite Movements

Here are few of my favorite movements with the TRX: 

TRX Outside Final

Top Workouts

Enjoy one of these workouts with the TRX:

TRX EMOM: Complete the following Every Minute On the Minute for 10 minutes.

  • 5x TRX Rows
  • 10x TRX Atomic Pushups
  • 15x TRX Squat Jumps

TRX :45/:15: Complete the movements highlighted on the video in order for :45 of work followed by :15 rest.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: equipment workouts TRX traveling

Weightlifting Gear: Equipment to Enhance Training—or Ego?

lifting.jpgThere are numerous different products on the market now that are supposed to help improve your strength training. From lifting belts to Mark Bell’s patented Slingshot, there is more gear available now than ever. For a novice lifter, the multitude of available products will probably just leave your head spinning. What is actually helpful and what is just a moneymaker? Here is my take on some of the most popular products out there.

Lifting Belts

There are some products that I will advise most lifters to stay away from, but this is not one of them! A lifting belt is imperative to a good strength training regimen. Any kind of substantial load for a squat or a deadlift is going to put a lot of pressure into your abdominal cavity, as well as onto your spine. A lifting belt acts as a brace when the lifter takes in a large breath and pushes their abdomen out into the belt. This ensures that the spine stays stable in place and has nowhere to go, resulting in a much-reduced risk of injury. This piece of equipment is the first that I would recommend purchasing for any new lifter, especially if you are thinking about competing in powerlifting.

Not sure if you want to compete? Try it out at the annual NIFS Powerlifting Competition! It is a great starter meet to get your feet wet and see what competition is all about.

Olympic Lifting Shoes

You have probably seen or heard of lifting shoes before. They have an elevated heel and make a nice, loud “SMACK” sound on the platforms at NIFS during a properly executed Olympic lift. These shoes can be helpful for more than just Olympic lifting, though. They can be very helpful for front and back squats (depending on your body type). If you have the right body type (usually tall and lanky), these shoes will create better leverage for you to squat more efficiently. The elevated heel actually shifts your center of gravity forward just a slight bit, which allows the squatter to sit backwards and reach “good depth” easier.

These shoes can be somewhat costly for students. Try to find a good deal on a pair of lifters if you are strapped for cash. The more expensive pairs (Nike Romaleos) can run up to $250 or $300, but Adidas makes a similar shoe that you can find for around $75. If you are not an Olympic competitor, there is not much need to spend a couple hundred dollars on these shoes.

Mark Bell’s Slingshot

So, we have looked at an “almost necessary” product and a “nice to have, but don’t totally need” product. Here is an example of a “don’t really need at all” product. Mark Bell’s Slingshot is a highly elastic band with two arm sleeves on the side, which, once you put the Slingshot on, causes the elastic band to stretch across your chest. Basically, this tool allows the lifter to handle heavier loads on the bench press than they normally could. The few advantages to this product are

  • Less shoulder pain for those with very severe shoulder issues
  • Overloading the bench press with above-maximal weight
  • Frankly, loading your ego by seeing how much you can bench when using it

If you’re thinking I am just hating on Mark Bell or his product without just cause, please reconsider. I am a big fan of Mark and his no-nonsense business style. He knows what his product is for and to whom he should market it. I even have a Slingshot of my own! That being said, I think there are too many young lifters who buy his products just because they see him as an idol and they want to be like him in any way possible. The Slingshot is a tool that can be utilized by experienced lifters, and it can be helpful. But, for the beginner lifter, this product will almost certainly do you more harm than good.

Start with the Basics

There is a time and place for most lifting products, but most of them are not needed until you are way down the road to being competitive. Start with the basic products that will benefit you, not confuse you. A lifting belt is a great product to start with, and possibly a pair of lifting shoes. Do your research about all lifting products and try to determine which ones will work the best for you. I urge you to not just buy any of these products on a whim, thinking that they have to help you because somebody famous said so.

For more information on lifting gear, or lifting heavy weights in general, contact Cara Hartman at chartman@nifs.org. Cara runs the LIFT program at NIFS and has some great expertise to share with you!

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This blog was written by Aaron Combs, NSCA CSCS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.


Topics: equipment NIFS programs injury prevention weightlifting powerlifting strength training

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 2: Superbands for Resistance

Screen_Shot_2016-08-23_at_1.59.16_PM.pngNext up on the minimal gear with max results list is truly one of my favorites, the superband. In part 1, we took a look the slider and all its versatility and ability to challenge the body in many different ways. The superband provides even more options with very little gear (mainly because we can perform more pulling movements with the band). So now we add “load” to a movement pattern on top of gravity. The superband is definitely next on the packing list when I travel, and I always have one available at home.

Favorite Portable Exercise Equipment: The Superband

The superband has been gaining in popularity over the last decade or so. With its easy-to-use and on-the-go capability, the superband has become a staple in many programs, from the weekend warrior (guys and gals like you and me) to elite-level athletes. Dave Schmitz, also known as “the Bandman,” has been teaching and promoting the use of superbands (resistance bands) since the mid-1990s. I have learned a great deal from Dave, not only about programming using bands, but also the motivation to reach as many people as I possibly can.

The band can be used anywhere, all by itself or attached to a stationary object or partner. This versatile tool uses tension as its load, and maintains resistance pretty much throughout a range of motion, which skyrockets its potential for strength gain and metabolic cost of the movement. The movement possibilities are endless, which can provide so much variety to your program either at home or away.

Best Superband Exercises and Workouts

Here are some of our favorite superband exercises:

Workouts:

M & M Bands Final

Circuit—:40/:20—3–5 Rounds

  • Front squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bent-over rows
  • Jump press
Strength
  • A1 Chin-ups      4x5 (add load)
  • A2 Band push-ups      4x max reps
  • B1 2KB front squats      3x8-10
  • B2 Band hip press      3x8-10
  • C1 Band 1/2K lift      3x8
  • C2 Band bent-over rows      3x8
Give a few of these (or all of them) a try in your current program or on your next trip and you will find out what the band can do for you. Take along your sliders and you’ve just doubled the movement capabilities, and yet you are still only at two tools.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we take a look at easily one of my favorite pieces, the TRX.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center equipment workouts resistance

Max Results with Minimal Equipment, Part 1: Sliders

Screen_Shot_2016-08-10_at_11.21.07_AM.pngIn my eight years here at NIFS, one major thing I am so lucky to have is a world-class fitness facility right outside my office door. Some of the greatest fitness equipment surrounded by some of the greatest fitness minds are at my fingertips every day. I love to move, and I love to move here, but many times I need to move outside of these walls, and of course I will have to leave the awesome gear where it lies.

But have no fear; there are some options that can maximize results with minimal gear. My first choice is my NIFS’ fitness floor, but in this four-part series, I will highlight my favorite tools to use when you can use only one.

Favorite Portable Exercise Equipment: The Slider

Today we take a look at the innocent-looking but brutal tool the slider, also known as a Valslide. You may have seen them used to move heavy furniture. This simple and versatile tool can challenge most movement patterns as well as create balance and stability needs. With movements ranging from beginner to advanced, there is really something for everybody when using sliders. They can act as a focal point of a metabolically driven circuit, or in a core-targeting segment, as well as super-setting with a heavy strength movement.

And one of the most appealing attributes of the slider is that you can take it anywhere without taking up any space. You will find that the four implements I will be highlighting all have this in common. The other thing these have in common is that they take away your excuses for not training while you are away.

Best Slider Exercises and Workouts

Here are 10 of my favorite slider exercises and some workouts that you can try out.

VIDEO WORKOUTS:

Circuit—:40/:20—3–5 rounds

  • Reverse lunges
  • Burpees
  • Hamstring curls
  • Pushup reaches

Strength

  • A1 barbell deadlift5x2

  •  A2 slider slideouts—3x10

  •  B1 DB flat bench press—3x8-10

  •  B2 slider eccentric hamstring curls —3x8-10

  •  C1 lat pull-downs—3x8

  •  C2 slider lateral lunges—3x8

M & M Sliders Final

There are far more movements and ways to use the versatile slider. For more ideas, flag down a NIFS instructor and they will be happy to help. Until next time when I cover the superband, add a few of these movements into your workout and start reaping the benefits of this simple tool.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center equipment workouts balance core

Triathlon Swimming Training: Tips from NIFS

tri.jpgFor many triathlon participants, the swim is the most difficult discipline. Open-water swimming is different than following the black line on the bottom of a pool. Here are some tips to help the swim portion of the race go more smoothly.

Get Good Equipment

Get a good suit and goggles (there are specific ones for different face shapes). Spend some extra money and get advice from a good swim shop.

Get Help with Form, Drills, and Workouts

You need to make sure your stroke is efficient and repeatable, so that you will be confident in the race. Here are a few drills to get you started. Most of your swim workouts will include a drill set. Pick from the variety of drills here:

  • Catch-up Freestyle: Promotes better rotation and arm-stroke mechanics.
    Start by kicking facedown with both arms extended in front of you. After 3-4 seconds, perform a complete pull with one arm and rotate fully to that side. Immediately rotate back on your belly and catch up to the forward arm with the arm that just pulled. Kick for 3-4 seconds and then pull with the other arm and rotate.
  • Count Stroke: Helps to improve overall stroke efficiency.
    Count the number of strokes you take while swimming one complete length of the pool with normal freestyle. Try to lower the number of strokes taken in each length. You will achieve this by taking longer, more powerful pulls, rotating more, and allowing yourself to glide a little bit. Feel free to exaggerate these elements in order to decrease the stroke count.
  • Fingertip Drag: Promotes complete arm extension and proper hand position in the release.
    Swim a normal freestyle stroke, except consciously drag your fingertips across the surface of the water during the recovery phase.
  • Fist: Helps with shoulder rotation and increases pull. 
    Swim with your fists clenched. This drill helps with rotation and working on the elbow bend in the catch portion of the arm cycle in order to create a powerful “paddle” for the pull.
  • Bilateral Breathing: Practice breathing on both sides.
    Most triathletes are only able to breathe to one side while swimming, but breathing on the non-dominant side is very important during a triathlon (and during training, too!). Swim your normal freestyle stroke while breathing on every third stroke (right-left-right) instead of every second or fourth (right or left only). Stick with it and you’ll steadily improve.
  • Sighting: Simulates race-day skills. 
    Sighting is an important skill when you swim in open water without lane lines to guide you. It consists of modifying your swim stroke to look ahead and spot a landmark to aim toward. In a normal freestyle stroke, you turn your head directly to one side to inhale and then turn your head back to a neutral position with your eyes looking toward the bottom. When you sight, you instead turn your head to look forward to spot a landmark, inhale, then put your face back in the water. When practicing, swim normally and sight every 4 to 6 strokes.

Practice in Open Water

This is important! The pool is great for getting in mileage and form work, but the dark water with no lane lines can add stress to race day. Try to find a open swim area to practice sighting and getting used to swimming in a straight line.

Do Plenty of Mileage

If your race is 500 meters, make sure you can do almost twice the distance. In the beginning that may seem like a lot, but you will be much more comfortable on race day if you are always doing extra work beforehand.

Train with Others in Your Lane (or in Your Way)

This is important if you cannot get to open water. During a race there are often fellow racers swimming by, over, or near you. Have someone swim next to you and occasionally hit you, splash you, or harass you. This will help you focus on your stroke, focus on breathing to the opposite side, and get you ready for all challenges on race day.

If you’re ready to train for a triathlon, check out NIFS’s Go Girl Tri-Training Program. Training is Tuesday nights starting 6/21 at 5:30 pm. All experience levels are welcome. Training options include race entry for the Go Girl Sprint Triathlon at Eagle Creek park on August 27, 2016!


TRI-HEADER-pink.jpgRegister_Button_Icon_for_client_website.jpg

This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS equipment workouts swimming triathlon NIFS programs

Safe Workouts in the Dog Days of Summer

ThinkstockPhotos-497566061.jpgSo many people have been expectantly waiting for this hot summer weather to be able to get outside for their workouts. And I can tell you that I am also one of those people; but there are some dangers behind the dog days of summer that we all need to be aware of.

Taking your exercise outside is an awesome idea, but I wouldn’t cancel that gym membership so fast. Let’s take a look at both the dangers of the steamy outdoor workouts and ideas on how to stay cool.

Why Outdoor Exercise Can Be Dangerous in Hot Weather

When the temperatures and humidity rise, working out outside can become dangerous, and it can happen very quickly without anyone even realizing it. The hotter and more humid it becomes, the more you sweat, and the sweat cannot evaporate as quickly as it should. Because of this, your internal body temperature rises and can become deadly.

Some warning signs and symptoms of reaching that dangerous and potentially deadly state are weakness, dizziness, muscle cramps, confusion, headache, increased heart rate, and vomiting.

How to Keep Cool for Summer Workouts

But there are some ways that we can help ourselves during the dog days of summer if you do choose to work out outside. Take a close look at this list and consider taking these steps:

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Drink as much water as possible for proper hydration.
  • Wear sunscreen. Lather up with sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Wear sunglasses. This important piece of equipment protects your eyes and conserves energy.
  • Get the proper clothing. You want to wear light and loose, moisture-wicking clothing.
  • Consume the proper nutrition. Eat a well-balanced diet, and make sure to eat something small before you head out for a long run or Bootcamp class.
  • Check the air quality. This is important because it affects how you breathe. The higher the level of AQ, the harder it will be to breathe; the lower, the better. According to EPA standards, if the air quality number is over 100, it’s not good. If it’s below 100, it’s considered satisfactory air level.
  • Stay out of the sun. Look for shade to work out in.
  • Monitor your heart rate. If it gets too high, take a break.
  • Listen to your body. If your body is telling you stop or it’s too hot, listen to it!
  • Stay inside if it’s above 90. It’s better to hit the gym than to put yourself in danger.
  • Bring water to your workout. Try to keep hydrating yourself as you work out; don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Cool towels help. Take a cool, damp towel and put it over your head or around your neck.
  • Wear a loose-fitting hat. Wearing a tight hat holds the heat to your head, so in order to protect yourself from the sun, wear a loose-fitting hat that allows your head to breathe.

If you do decide to work out outside in the dog days of summer, do the best you can to take the proper precautions and protect yourself from harm. Listen to your body and be sure not to over-do it!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center equipment injury prevention summer hydration sunscreen

The Benefits of Incorporating Resistance Bands into Your Workout

bands-1If you have spent any amount of time in the gym lately, I am sure you have seen a lot of people using exercise bands for part of their workout. When looking at a flimsy, thin exercise band, many would think, “Okay, what type of workout will that even give me?” Studies have shown that workouts using exercise bands will increase muscle strength and size while helping decrease fat, similar to using free weights.

How Bands Improve Your Workout

So, whether you are in CXWORX, working out in a HIT class, or doing something on your own, using resistance bands can add significant benefits into your workout. Here are the top things they can do:

  • Provide resistance: Just like using a weight to make an exercise more difficult to do, resistance bands help to provide tension and resistance to challenge you in your workout.
  • Allow free range of motion: Doing exercises in the full range of motion is important because it helps in injury prevention. Training in full ROM puts positive stress on your connective tissue and will decrease the chance of injury.
  • Allow progressive speeds and tension without changing equipment: Adapting an exercise while using a resistance band couldn’t get any easier! With a simple step forward or backward, the tension on the band will significantly change, allowing the exercise to become easier or more difficult.
  • Easily packable for road trips or a space saver: This is the most obvious one of all; resistance bands don’t take up a lot of space, so even if you have always dreamed of that “home gym,” you can get a few bands and still make it work without a lot of equipment. It goes without saying that this is a huge cost saver.
  • Get a total body workout: Any fitness professional will tell you that you can get a full-body workout simply by using a resistance band. From biceps to triceps, back to chest, glutes to quads, and everything in between, using a band will change the idea of using 200 items to get in a full workout!

Change Up Your Workout

If you are trying to think of ways to change up your workout, think about throwing some resistance band training in there. You can ask any of the health fitness specialists at NIFS to show you some exercises or put you through a routine. 

Need help setting up a workout program? Schedule a free assessment today!

Free Fitness Assessment

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: equipment injury prevention muscles range of motion resistance Les Mills

5 Reasons to Wear a Fitness Tracker

526115883Wearable fitness technology is definitely the latest thing in the health, fitness, and wellness industry. With several recent studies focusing on the negative effects of sitting and a sedentary lifestyle, it seems as if these wearable fitness gadgets are getting even more hype than ever. These gadgets can track the number of calories you burn, how many steps you take, every single move you make, and even the quality of sleep you get each night. Are these super-fit tech toys really the key to getting fit? Or is it best to stick to the advice of a trusted health and fitness professional?

While it’s always best to work with a certified health and fitness professional and your doctor when making changes to your activity level, wearing fitness tech gadgets definitely has a lot of benefits. Because I LOVE to be in the know with just about anything on trends, I had to get a fitness tracker of my own to see for myself. Here is what I learned.

1. Users become aware of their ACTUAL current activity level.

These fitness trackers give users a great picture of where they are with their current activity level. I will admit that when I started to wear my Nike Fuelband, I was pretty shocked to find out that even though I exercise or try to move my body in some way every day, there are days where I still struggle to reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

2. Goal setting is key.

While I was surprised to learn that I needed to step up my game (literally) in the number of steps per day I was taking, my fitness tracker made it easy for me to set realistic goals and track my progress. I know what my numerical goals are, and it’s easy for me to check my progress throughout the day.

3. Getting in an hour workout isn’t enough.

Okay, so I’m not advocating over-exercising here, but I am promoting getting up and moving around throughout the day. It can be so easy to get sucked into e-mail, a project at work, or whatever else you have going on in your day. When we get sucked into these projects, hours can go by without us taking a single step.

After using my fitness tracker to assess where my daily movement was and setting some personal goals, I know that I need to take movement breaks each hour in order to reach my goal. Not only are these movement breaks necessary to achieve 10,000 steps a day, but I have found that I’m more productive in the 50 to 60 minutes that I spend working on a task, and I am more focused after I come back from my movement break.

4. Community helps keep users accountable.

While this may not appeal to everyone, with many of the fitness trackers there is a community element involved. You can share your successes through social media and you can follow along with other people using the devices. Personally, I like to keep my information private, but I think this aspect can be great for some people!

5. Fitness trackers provide extra motivation.

Constant sight of the wristband is like a constant reminder of the goals that you set for yourself. For me, it’s motivating when I see the wristband and a reminder to follow through with the commitment that I made to myself.

While there are so many benefits to using these wearable fitness trackers, there are a couple of things to remember before you rush out to the store to purchase a tracker for yourself.

  • These trackers are not exact. While companies have done their best to ensure accuracy, nothing is perfect and you have to keep that in mind and leave a little room for error.
  • It’s also important to remember that simply wearing the device will not make you fitter or healthier. You must act on the goals that you set in order to see changes.
  • It’s also important to remember not to let the numbers take control of your life. If you find you are putting your fitness and workouts before your personal relationships or you are getting injuries from your workouts, you may want to step back a bit. It’s important to listen to your body and do what is truly making you happy.

I have loved wearing my fitness tracker, as it has helped me to gain activity throughout my day, which was my main goal. While I meet the required amount of exercise each day, I still do quite a bit of sitting, which is now being called the new smoking. Reaching my goal each day makes me feel good and motivates me to continue to work hard to stay healthy while enjoying life.

Be Active Stay Healthy!

Try a group fitness class for free

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

 

 

Topics: fitness healthy habits motivation goal setting walking equipment calories fitness trends

10 Better Ways to Do 10 Exercises (Part 2)

Salutations NIFS blog followers! Welcome back to our late-summer blog series. In part 1, I discussed how to perform effective pushups, improved treadmill walking efficiency, and a more challenging way to do the classic bicep curl, making these more effective exercises. Understandably, we all have our own idea of what a workout should look like, which exercises work best, and which exercises make us almost want to quit. Here I continue our mission to take your fitness knowledge library to the next level.

4. Behind-the-Head Lat Pull-Downs


In most gyms, a good trainer will tell you not to perform a behind-the-head pull-down, but we must ask ourselves, “why not?” If you have the luxury of having a good trainer, they will tell you it is because it is bad for your rotator cuffs, which is mostly true. I feel that even if you are doing this exercise and not experiencing pain, it’s still not a natural movement for your body to perform.

I recommend doing a standard lat pull-down, in which the bar comes to about eye level (or the bottoms of the arms are parallel to the floor) in front of the face. Not only will this be a safer movement, it is more akin to what your end goal could be: standard pull-ups.

back-lateral

    front-lateral

5. Weighted Torso Rotation Machine

The idea here is simple: Train your core like any other muscle group with the ease of a machine. The bad news is that your spine and disks in your back aren’t meant to be under that kind of stress, which can be a big problem for individuals with weaker cores. I would avoid this machine if possible and replace the exercise with some modern gym science.

One option is a side plank reach. While performing a side plank, reach through the space between your body and the floor. Our core can respond to mobility training, but this requires stability as well, making for one tough exercise. No weights are required, and you can modify by going to one knee on the bottom side.

torso-rotation side-plank

6. Stability Ball Bench Press

Of all the exercises we will discuss, the stability ball bench press may be considered one of the most dangerous. The idea of using a stability ball is appealing for individuals who want to get the most out of their training and improve core strength and balance, but what they do not realize is that there is a stability ball weight capacity. The ball is intended to support your body weight, not your body weight plus 75-pound dumbbells. If you are a 200-pound person using 150 pounds of weight on a stability ball with a capacity of 350 pounds, you can easily see where the danger arises. In a worst-case scenario, the ball bursts, you end up with a broken back, and life won’t be the same again.

If you are interested in a good core challenge while doing bench press, try single-arm dumbbell press on a normal flat bench. It’s the same as traditional dumbbell bench press, except with only one dumbbell. To counteract the imbalance on the bench, your core has to work just that much more to stay on the bench. Be sure to do both sides.

stability-ball-press bench-press

7. Knees-over-the-Toes Squat

The idea that squatting over the toes is bad dates back many years, almost so long ago that a lot of people have no idea why it’s bad. A common misconception is that it causes way too much stress on the knee and could cause injury. This can’t be 100 percent true because in day-to-day life as well as athletic performances, we track our knees over our toes, and many times it will be in a higher-stress event such as doing heavy yard work or scrimmaging in volleyball. The underlying problem with knees-over-the-toes squats is the tendency to lean forward as we squat, which shifts our hips out of position and in turn our back out of alignment.

For starters, I would start over, developing a new squat pattern from the ground up, known as a primitive squat. A primitive squat, not unlike what our ancestors used for day-to-day tasks, is a good place to begin reprogramming your lower body. Use a TRX for assistance and squat as low as possible without weight, pausing at the bottom for a brief moment. Stay back on your heels as though you are sitting in a chair. If you are experiencing tightness, hang out at the bottom of the squat to stretch and loosen up the muscles. As unnatural as it feels, primitive squats are one of the most natural exercise positions your body will ever be in and will also help if you are invited to have a cultural dinner experience in Tokyo.

Squat-new TRX-squat

This concludes part 2 of “10 Better Ways to Do 10 Exercises.” As you can see, there are many topics to discuss. I will continue this blog next time with exercises 8 through 10: the dangers of rotating shoulder shrugs, are weighted sit-ups worthwhile, and what can a kip pull-up do for me? Until next time, muscle heads rejoice and evolve!

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

 

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Topics: fitness center equipment shoulders injury prevention muscles core dumbbell exercises